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Healthy Teeth: Why Starting Early is Key

Routine care is crucial for the lifelong protection of teeth against bacteria and oral diseases. Here, our Winnipeg dentists talk about why it's important to start your children with good oral hygiene habits early in order to help maintain healthy teeth.

If you have an infant or young child then you may think that there's no point in visiting the dentist until they have all their teeth. However, the Canadian Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist for an assessment of the signs of a first tooth, or by 12 months of age.

Your child's first visit to the dentist will help them become familiar with the new faces and sounds. The dentists will have a chat with them and take a little peek at how their teeth are doing but nothing major. Subsequent visits should be every six months for children's dental care, the same as for adults.

Here Are 3 Key Reasons to Bring Your Child to the Dentist at an Early Age

  1. Build trust. You can help your child learn that the dentist is safe and that they can feel comfortable at the dental office.
  2. Check technique. Your dentist will be able to point out any areas that may need a little work and make any recommendations.
  3. Proactive approach. By visiting the dentist every six months, your dentist can be proactive and catch any developing issues early.

It’s important to understand that a child’s primary (“baby”) teeth are at risk of developing early childhood tooth decay as their protective enamel is thinner than that of permanent teeth. Tooth decay can be painful, impacting your child’s overall health. It can also trigger issues with sleeping, speaking or eating, as well as their ability to focus or learn.

Here Are Some Tips To Help Your Child Learn Great Oral Hygiene Habits

  • Begin even before the first tooth appears! You can use a clean damp cloth to clean away any debris along their gums twice daily.
  • Avoid offering bottles prior to naps or bedtime. If you can’t avoid it, try using water instead of milk or juice to avoid decay. Limit time with a bottle to five minutes or less to help prevent the development of orthodontic issues.
  • You should bring your child in for their first dental visit by the time they reach 12 months of age.
  • At the first sign of a tooth, brush your child’s teeth daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a very small amount of fluoride-free toothpaste until they’re old enough to spit it out (typically around 3 years old).
  • Let your child practice brushing by copying you, then finish for them, making sure that all surfaces have been cleaned. Your child will need help with brushing until they’re about 8 years old.
  • Teach your child the importance of brushing your teeth each day for two minutes.
  • Replace toothbrushes every few months or when they begin to show signs of wear, such as flattening or bushy bristles.
  • Bring your child for regular dental visits. Every six months is optimal, but this may vary depending on your dentist.

If you would like to learn more about how to set your child up for good, lifelong oral health, contact our Winnipeg dentists to request an appointment.

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